After seeing all the lovely cardigans, jumpers and bags on here I almost didn't post this but we all have to start somewhere right? The back story to this is interesting too so bear with me!
Last September I was up North in Michigan and called in to a little farm shop that advertised wool, mainly Alpaca. The farm was a horse farm, but the "wool" lady was the mother of the owner and when she retired she moved up to the farm to help with the place and her two grandsons. A little bored she acquired three Alpacas and started to learn spinning (she (Betty) was already an accomplished knitter), and opened up her little store in the old dairy. Quite by chance she was offered six Icelandic Sheep. Northern Michigan has a lot of farms, mainly fruit and vegetables but the economy locally has been hit hard for a couple of years. Last Spring was unseasonably warm (80F in March), followed by a severe cold snap, followed by a summer drought, anything that survived the cold snap (fruit blossom) succumbed to the drought. A lot of farmers lost their land because of this and this is how Betty ended up getting the Icelandic for free as they needed someone to take care of them. Because of the previous owner's hardship he had not kept up their vet care, all six were in lamb but they were all in a pretty bad way. Betty saved the sheep (a lot of vet bills!) but only three lambs were born live. So she now has a little herd of three Alpacas and nine Icelandic sheep. We were there well over an hour chatting, and I met the sheep, the alpacas were too shy, but I met Celia (Icelandic) who provided some of the wool I bought.
So, the hat..... 50% black Alpaca, 50% Icelandic Sheep, shorn and cleaned at source and carded and hand spun by Betty herself. It was a little rough to work with in places, it would occasionally go from thick to thin but I got on with it OK overall. It was very hard to finish due to the variation of the stitches and the yarn when I was trying to decrease, plus there was no real give in the wool. I ended up with very painful hands and a couple of cramped fingers! Plus I was glad I had used metal dpns, I know I would have broken my bamboo ones on those last few decreases, no doubt about it.
I added the red stripes as I knew I wasn't going to have quite enough of the main wool, as it turned out I could have made the thick stripe a bit thinner, but I didn't know that at the time. That wool was also from Betty, she'd been practicing dying techniques on Rowan 100% wool and then sold the large skeins of them for $10 just to get them out of her way!! The pattern was a simple K1, P1 rib and was in a book by Judith Durant.
And hubby must have liked it as he was wearing it this morning.... in the house... with his pj's on.... at 6:30am!! I left for work then and left him to it!!
The flash has bleached out the colour a bit, I'll try and get a better picture to add.